Since Danielle Melton started foster parenting in 2016, life as a working mom kept pulling her away from others going through the same trials and tribulations. It was isolating.
About a year ago, she started a private Facebook group called Boss Mom Crew then used the same name to reach out on Instagram to find other working mothers. This community of moms has grown to more than 13,000 followers.
The postings are inspirational with videos, tips and photos. It’s led to local gatherings, philanthropic donations and the launch of a mom-centric holiday.
“We are there to support each other and build each other up with other career women,” Melton said. “I understand we want to do better in life and a lot of moms put their ambitions and dreams to the side because of their children. Children should be the reason why we are going for our dreams and ambitions.
“For someone who thinks, ‘I can’t do what I want because of kids,’ we say ‘No, let’s do this together and we have your back to go for your goals.’”
Melton grew up in Tulsa and graduated from Union High School before earning degrees in education, including a master’s degree from Northeastern State University. She has been a school administrator and has taught child development classes at Tulsa Community College. Recently, Melton launched her own web design and branding company called Boss Mom Branding Co.
She and her husband, Quinton, became foster parents to care for Black children and others in racial and ethnic minorities. The couple has been foster parents to 16 children and youth.
“I grew up with foster siblings, and my parents treated the children as their own and gave them a positive light,” Melton said. “I wanted to give back to my community as well. We were a two-parent home with no children, and it’s rewarding to provide a safe haven.”
Foster parenting has some unique challenges with children having different reactions to the trauma of the abuse and neglect that placed them into the child welfare system.
Melton said she prepares by finding out their favorite foods and other things before they arrive.
“Then we follow the child’s lead,” she said. “To build trust, we give them autonomy by letting them have a say in things. Everything has been taken from them, and they have been in charge of nothing. So we allow them to be in charge as much as possible.
“We have dealt with different situations, some coming from meth homes or homes with domestic violence. We try our hardest to give them a great experience and to show what a positive home looks like. So when it is time for them to go home, they will have that.”
The Meltons keep in contact with the foster children who have left their homes. She said they make a point to develop a relationship with their parents.
“That’s really the key for the kids,” Melton said. “The parents are scared. We tell them we are here to support them, not take their kids. We are a safe place for the kids while you work on yourself. While you get the help you need, I’ll provide a safe place for the kids.”
This can be heavy work. All parenting is heavy work.
“We entered parenthood in a nontraditional way,” she said. “As much as I tried to prepare for parenthood, even having a master’s degree in education, even with all my experience with child development, I was not as prepared as I thought I would be. I seriously did not know how much of myself I had to give as a parent.
“I was juggling so much and felt lonely as a mother. I was looking for some kind of community to focus on me as a mom and my struggles with parenthood.”
Melton tapped into something going by how quickly her Boss Mom Crew took off. Followers are from all over the world such as Australia and Canada. For local followers, they met virtually during the pandemic then started with monthly get-togethers.
“I created Boss Mom Crew to fill a void in myself,” Melton said. “It’s a passion of mine and a thing I look forward to. It feels good to know that I’m not alone in these feelings. I thought I was the only one. I now know that we all have our own struggles, but we are here to help uplift each other through the process.
“This is about letting our hair down and just being ourselves. We come from different places and backgrounds; we have lawyers, engineers, teachers, and other professionals part of our Boss Mom Crew community. We walk together and encourage and inspire each other.”
Those local gatherings turned into a no-pressure giving circle. They decided to pool donations to give a larger gift to a nonprofit that helps women. Last month, they gave $1,000 to Martha’s Foundation, which supports teen mothers.
Boss Mom Crew’s, monthly moms’ nights out stresses self-care.
“It’s a break away from the norm to have a good time with other working moms who understand the struggle,” she said. “We can honestly only do so much. We are normally at the bottom of our to-do list, but the Boss Mom Crew is making sure we are at the top of that.
“Know your limits and boundaries, focus on you during specific tasks, and make sure of your mental state.”
That means not taking on every volunteer need that comes along. So many times, school events and charity functions are run by the same people. And, those people burn out.
“You have to know how to say no and advocate for yourself,” Melton said.
As the holidays approached, the moms started getting busy, talking about all the activities from October to January. That gave Melton an idea for an unofficial holiday.
She calls it Momsgiving and held a celebration the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. About 100 women attended a dinner hosted by Restore House in Broken Arrow.
“It was a way to pause and focus on moms — to say ‘You are awesome. You are valued. You are important,’” Melton said. “It’s something we’d like to do every year.”
The holidays are coming to an end, but the hectic lives of working moms remain.
“Just take a few moments and a few hours for you,” Melton said. “For me, I get up a few hours early to read a book, drink coffee and get my mind together. Don’t deplete yourself; make time for you.”